By Nick Butler at the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre

Thomas Bach embraced the Youth Olympic spirit by posing for a selfie during the Ceremony ©AFP/Getty ImagesNanjing 2014 got underway here this evening with an Opening Ceremony of the Summer Youth Olympic Games celebrating both the history and traditions of China and the potential and vibrancy of its youngsters.

The two-hour event provided a further opportunity for the host nation to show itself to the world and, although certain elements may not have resonated immediately with an international audience, it was a perfect blend of the visually spectacular and the meaningful, as another journey was taken through China's vast multitude of contributions to global development.

But, throughout all of this, there remained a focus on young people who make up these Games, from luminous runners on a treadmill "lighting up the future" to references to the "Chinese Dream" of future peace and renewal.

There was also a more spontaneous example of Chinese efficiency when hundreds of workers took to the stage to clear and mop the vast quantities of water shortly before the beginning of the Ceremony, with the relentless rain barely ceasing throughout.

While the Opening Ceremony of the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow used famous stars and musical segments to please the crowd, this affair bore more in common with the openings of the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi earlier this year.

Giant ships referencing 15th century explorer Zhang He and a trapeze performance from 100 members of the Songshan Shaolin Tagou Martial Arts School - the same School that staged a performance of Chinese Tai Chi at the Opening Ceremony of Beijing 2008 - were among the most spectacular components.

Like at Beijing 2008, the performers provided one of the highlights of the Opening Ceremony ©Getty ImagesLike at Beijing 2008, the performers provided one of the highlights of the Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images

But, like in Sochi, there was also a strong political context to proceedings, with the Stadium reverberating in boos when Japanese Flagbearer Mia Aquino paraded, with memories of the massacre of up to 300,000 civilians here in Nanjing in 1937, as well as the more recent territorial disputes, still resonating.

There were even more vindictive comments, ridiculing both Japan and China as well as many other countries, posted on the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games live YouTube feed during the evening.

A more positive moment was provided when an official from the Sierra Leone team paraded despite the fact the West African country has withdrawn from the Games as a consequence of the Ebola outbreak.

The arrival of South Sudan's Margret Rumat Rumar Hassan, competing as an Independent Olympic Athlete here in Nanjing as her nation does not yet have a National Olympic Committee, was also greeted by widespread applause.

This was the very theme of unity and peace evoked by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in his speech, which included a plea for athletes to take selfies to show-off their fortune in being present at such an occasion.

"You are here to enjoy the competitions and to deliver your personal best performance," Bach told the participants.

"But these Games are also about sharing, learning and making friends across the globe.

"Enjoy your Games.

"Our Chinese hosts with their great friendliness, their wonderful hospitality and world famous efficiency have already set the stage.

"So please join me all in thanking the Chinese people, the people of Jiangsu Province and the people of this great city of Nanjing - thank you very much."

Nanjing 2014 opened with a spectacular Opening Ceremony ©Getty ImagesNanjing 2014 opened with a spectacular Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images

 The Games were then officially opened by Chinese President Xi Jinping, an hour before the Youth Olympic Cauldron was lit by the four time Olympic gold medal winning diver, Chen Ruolin.

A local girl who hails from Jiangsu Province, she was the last of six Chinese Olympic champions who carried the Torch into the stadium, following in the footsteps of badminton legend Lin Dan, race walker Chen Ding, speed skater Zhou Yang, taekwondo player Wu Jingyu and table tennis player Zhang Jike.

It will be hoped that similar levels of performance will be seen from the 3,000 young athletes present tomorrow morning, when the sporting action here begins in earnest.

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